Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tom's report on the migration

Orchard Oriole [1st summer male]
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

Indefatigable bird reporter TOM FIORE has sent in another comprehensive fall migration round-up:

Hi Marie,

There are a lot of birds that migrate south through the NYC area and more specifically through Central Park, in the month of August. For a number of species, most of their southward migration, their departure from here or from points farther north, is completed by the end of August. One of the best examples of such a species is Orchard Oriole - this is a species only rarely seen in our area after August of each year, most having already made the trip south to wintering areas. This stands in great contrast to our more-familar Baltimore Oriole which can be seen thru the fall - and occasionally is found even in winter months, although that is never expected. In the past 3 weeks or so, most Orchard Orioles had already made the trip south. I was able to see a few - with some searching - in the last week of July in Central Park, but no longer: I believe all may now be gone.

There are a good number of Baltimore Orioles around Central Park (and also in Riverside Park) and I believe at least some of these may be migrants from elsewhere which are beginning to pass through. We expect more in September and October, after which they are usually very scarce.

Among other birds, including the many species which pass through Central Park each spring & fall but don't nest in the city, a good variety are now coming back through, and for some species, they are in good numbers. I would like to make note of the recent report of some of these from long-time keen Central Park observer Junko Suzuki who had managed to find time in a busy schedule to do what we all must, see the birds when they are with us! Junko reported a number of warblers in a few places, with a highlight of two Hooded Warblers at the area of the "Lower Lobe", or as some prefer "Wagner Cove" - in any case, at the southwest end of the lake.

A number of other birders who have been out and about over this past week have found a variety of migrant species as well. Now, with a northerly component to the wind (it was from the northwest Tuesday night for a time and then came more from the northeast, at & after sunrise) - more birds have arrived from the north. At least thirteen species of warblers are in Central Park on this Wednesday as well as a number of other migrants passing through - and my point about this is to gently remind all that it is absolutely normal and expected - these are explicitly not early: not earlier than usual but moving south much as they do each and every year, with a lot of species almost all departing before August is done in the northeastern part of North America. We won't see a lot of Cerulean warblers in any season, but that is a species that is among those that primarily migrate south by middle August. Another such species is Worm-eating Warbler - even though these sometimes turn up in September or very rarely early October, the vast majority are far south of NY by the end of August. There are more examples - Canada Warbler, another early-deaprting species. The list goes on and on - and is not at all made up of just warblers; many flycatchers (other than Eastern Phoebe) also move south in great numbers in August: Eastern Kingbird is among the August-migrators.

Even species that may not commonly be associated with summertime migratory movement are to be seen moving south to some extent, including blackbirds such as common grackles, and although not regularly reported at Central Park, expected as mid-summer migrants are Bobolinks, a lot of which will pass through NYC & even fly past Central Park, all too typically not stopping in unless rather briefly to rest & move on again. Bobolinks, the Orioles - these are blackbirds, in family relationships all are part of the large "Icteridae", which also include all meadowlarks and many more birds that are not found in North America at all but are resident in the lower latitudes of the western hemisphere. Occasionally, as large flocks of blackbirds such as Red-winged Blackbirds migrate during daylight in mid-fall or later, a few orioles (generally Baltimore in the eastern half of the U.S.) will join in too.

A list, partial as it probably is, of some of the migrants present in Central Park Wednesday, 8/11:

[I was in the park a bit more than 8 hours in all areas.]

Great Egret (may or may not be migrating this early)
Snowy Egret (flying by and seen from the north end)
Green Heron (maybe still the local individuals)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (not migrating yet)
Wood Duck (Meer & Pond)
Gadwall (many, on Meer)
American Black Duck
Green-winged Teal (Meer)
Osprey (fly-over)
Solitary Sandpiper (Meer, early a.m.)
Spotted Sandpiper (in several places)
Least Sandpiper (a few passing over)
Laughing Gull (well, not migrating yet)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Loch)
Common Nighthawk (1, fly-by, 7:55 pm)
Chimney Swift (20+)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (several sightings)
Northern [Yellow-shafted] Flicker (90+ in early a.m.)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Wildflower Meadow)
Empidonax [genus] Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird (15+ - including high fly-overs)
Tree Swallow (mostly high in air and in morning)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (less common)
Bank Swallow (few)
Barn Swallow (most common)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (n. end & Shakespeare Garden)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery (one, north end)

Blue-winged Warbler (2 seen separately)
Brewster's Warbler (Great Hill, east slope)
Tennessee Warbler (first-year, north woods)
Yellow Warbler (several)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (1)
Blackburnian Warbler (1)
Prairie Warbler (1)
Black-and-white Warbler (4)
American Redstart (10+)
Worm-eating Warbler (1)
Ovenbird (3)
Northern Waterthrush (6+)
Hooded Warbler (young one west of Hallett Sanctuary)
Canada Warbler (4)

Indigo Bunting (1)
Bobolink (12+ fly-bys)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole (25+, in many areas)

I won't go into the butterflies around the park just now!